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General Information

Information for Students  |  Information for Faculty | Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

When should I come to the writing center?

Whenever you think it might be useful! We’re happy to work with you on your writing at any stage. You can come in with a full draft. You can come in with just an assignment sheet to brainstorm ideas about how to get started or to have a conversation that will lead to finding a topic. You can come with a thesis statement, an introduction, an outline, or any combination thereof. Remember that any piece of writing can always improve, so if your project could benefit from multiple visits, be sure to plan ahead and start coming to the WC early to maximize the benefit of our services. We’re happy to help you at any stage in your writing process, from initial brainstorming to drafting and revising or editing and polishing.

What kinds of writing can I work on?

Just like we can help you at any stage in your writing process, we’re happy to work with you on any of your composition needs, from composition essays to lab reports, honors theses to proposal projects, or even creative writing. We can also help with non-alphabetic texts like speeches and poster or power-point presentations, and we’d also be glad to provide feedback on scholarship essays and applications or other professional materials as well. If you’re writing it, we’ll be happy to take a look and offer feedback.

What happens during a writing center appointment anyway?

Writing Center tutorials are essentially built around conversation. Your peer consultant will read through your work with you, allowing you to ask plenty of questions about your concerns and asking *you* plenty of questions about your intentions and the purpose of the piece. You’ll work together to find ways of making your work communicate your intended meaning as effectively as possible. Many clients find that the hardest part about writing is moving the ideas into your head onto the page, and marshalling them into academic English or into the shape of the specific assignment or writing genre. Writing Center consultants serve as a first trial audience for your work. They are another pair of eyes that can help identify what is and isn’t working with your composition; they can help you come up with new ideas or think about a subject more deeply; they can push you to express yourself more clearly or better address the needs of the assignment, and their questions, comments, and suggestions will help you to internalize a critical voice as you write and read your own work that you’ll be able to apply to anything you write in the future. What the Writing Center is not is a drop-off fix-it center: tutors don’t really ‘fix’ papers at all; rather, the tutorial is a highly collaborative experience, and you should expect to be engaged in the process.

Who are these writing consultants?

Most of the writing consultants are Trine students just like you who have been recommended to their positions because of their abilities as writers and communicators. Writing Center consultants come from all majors and disciplines, so if you have a particular project or piece of writing you’re working on, you may even be able to find a tutor who shares your major, has taken the classes you’re currently enrolled in, or even previously completed a similar assignment or project. Check out the Staff tab when making an appointment to find a match.

How can I become a Writing Center Consultant?

If you think you’d like to work in the Writing Center as a peer consultant, you can fill out an application online and request that your professors provide the Director with a recommendation of your skills and suitability for service in the WC.

For professors - Best practices for required visits

Required visits help students better recognize the importance that you place on writing; it also has the potential to improve the quality of the papers you receive.  Moreover, we often find that some students, who might never have considered using the Writing Center, discover that it’s a pretty great service — and so they come back later, even when they aren’t required to do so.

Experience has shown that these “required visits” can be a great deal more productive if instructors are willing to create certain expectations about the visit among their students. In particular, you can help us out in the following ways:

  1. Please require your students come with two or three questions or specific issues that they want to address when speaking to a writing assistant about their papers. When students just show up and aren’t sure what to do (“She just told me it’s required,” they'll say), they end up not having a very productive session. Or, sometimes, the student just says “just check my grammar,” which usually means that the student hasn’t given much thought to how he or she might improve the paper and/or isn’t prepared to do the deep work of revision. Moreover, the Writing Center isn't really a fix-it, grammar-checking or “proofreading” or editing service, so students who come expecting this can sometimes leave frustrated.

  2. Please encourage (or require) that your students make an appointment, as opposed to just dropping in. Doing so helps spread out the workload a bit; it also makes the students more intentional about the whole process. They can make an appointment using the online appointment form. (

  3. Set a deadline for the visit that’s well before the actual deadline for the paper to ensure students have time to make appointments and implement revisions. Also, if possible, create a system when scaffolding your assignment that staggers the deadlines. Past experience suggests that students will often put off these visits until the last minute; and this, along with the usual press of business, can create too much demand for appointments on a particular date and thereby overwhelm the system. Moreover, students tend not to be very interested in the advice they receive in such compromised circumstances, because — as they have sometimes said — “I don't have time to fix it.” Thus, if the paper is due on, say, the Thursday the 28th, choose a date earlier in the week (perhaps the 26th at the very latest) the last day to make that required visit to the center. Even better, require a certain part of the alphabet to do it by the 24th, another part by the 25th, etc.; you might also award extra credit for people who do it by an earlier date. This matter is especially important if your class has more than 20 students. The more time you can give students to make appointments and then make revisions based on their sessions, the better the experience will be for all.

If possible, send us a copy of the assignment and any specific criteria or challenges ahead of time, noting due dates and dates by which a visit is required. I will make this available to the writing assistants, who can then be better prepared for required visits. Our tutors always ask students to see the assignment anyway; inevitably, though, many don’t have it with them or can’t find it. This problem obviously occurs in a variety of cases, not just when students are assigned to visit the Writing Center — but when visits are assigned, this at least gives us an opportunity to address the problem by providing the tutors with it ahead of time.


Composition Lab Questions

Do I have to come to lab every week?

Your instructor will give you a lab schedule at the beginning of the semester. Depending on the semester, you may be required to come every week or every other week. During shortened weeks, such as the week before Thanksgiving and the weeks of fall and spring break, most instructors make lab optional, but, as with any component of your courses, you should check with your instructor if you are ever unsure about what is expected of you. You may also come to the Writing Center during your lab time and ask if you are on the schedule.

I missed my lab this week. What do I do?

You can attempt to reschedule missed labs. However, the Writing Center is very busy and needs to be available for all students on campus. For this reason, it is not always feasible to find a spot in the consultant’s schedules for make-up labs. Do your best to come to your regularly scheduled labs. If you miss appointments frequently, the Writing Center may ask you to reschedule your weekly appointment time or, in extreme cases, may revoke your right to schedule any appointments. If you fail to attend three appointments for which you are scheduled, you will be automatically deactivated from the ability to use our services.

I can’t make it to lab this week. What should I do to schedule a different make-up time?

You must notify us in advance if you need to change your lab time for an individual week. If you know you’re going to have a conflict, make sure to let your consultant know in advance so that a make-up time can be arranged. If you do not cancel your appointment before you miss it, you may not be allowed to make up your lab appointment and will be reported to your professor as failing to attend. Once you cancel the time you are unable to attend, a new or a make-up appointment can be made by going to the WC desk to speak with a consultant or by using the online scheduling software. When your make-up appointment is made, remember to fill out the form by selecting MAKE UP LAB from the appropriate drop-down box so that your teacher will know you have “made up” a lab outside of your regularly scheduled meetings and so you will receive credit for your attendance. As a courtesy to the many other students who use the Center, please try to avoid canceling appointments frequently. If you cancel appointments frequently, the Writing Center may ask you to reschedule your weekly appointment time or, in extreme cases, may revoke your right to reschedule appointments. If you make and fail to attend three appointments, you will be automatically deactivated from the ability to use our services.

My professor is saying I missed the lab, but I swear I went. What can I do?

If your appointment does not appear on the schedule when you visit the Center, your visit will not be recorded. You must make sure you have made an appointment in order to receive credit for your lab. If you think the record is in error, go to the Center and ask the consultant to look up your visit on the scheduling calendar and locate the client report for it. If a record of your attendance exists, the consultant can email your instructor confirming your lab attendance.


IRB Questions

If I am doing research at a location other than Trine do I need to get approval and if so how do I do that?

Yes, you will need to get approval through the IRB at the location of the research and from the IRB at Trine. If you do not get approval through the other IRB first, then approval through Trine’s IRB will not be granted.

Do I need to have an advisor if I am not doing the research in a class?

Yes, every research project needs an advisor. The advisor is there to oversee the research being done.

Who will my advisor be?

The advisor is, typically, the professor of the class you are doing the research for. If this is not the case, then the advisor is the faculty member who is overseeing the research project.

Are there any suggestions for a researcher to help them with filling out and submitting the IRB form so it is approved the first time?


  • Fill out everything using detail. 
  • Make sure to attach all documents such as surveys, consent forms, etc. 
  • Also consult the How to Fill Out the IRB Form available at the Writing Center.

How does the process work?

Generally the process goes in the following way:

  • A researcher fills out the IRB form.
  • A researcher creates all of the documents to go along with the form.
  • The researcher submits the IRB form AND the documents to for review.
  • The board reviews the IRB request where one of the following three things will happen:
    • The IRB form is completely rejected and there is no chance of a revision.
    • The researcher needs to revise the form and resubmit. (Most common)
    • The form is approved and the researcher can conduct the research.

Who is on the IRB at Trine?

The board is composed of multiple professors in different departments on campus and one (1) community member.

Why do I need to complete an IRB form?

In the 20th century there were experiments being done on both animals and humans were unethical; some experiments were the Tuskegee study, where the government infected people with STD’s to see what would happen, and Hitler’s doctors experiments on Jewish people that amounted torture. As a result of the unethical intentions, the IRB was formed to ensure the safety and protection of human and animal subjects and is a federal requirement for any research.

Who needs to apply?

Anyone doing research on human or animal subjects needs an approved IRB form. Research can range from asking peers to take a survey for a class to testing new medical drugs on mice.

What is the IRB form?

It is a form requesting permission to do research upon human or animal subjects. The IRB form makes sure that no intentional harm will come to the research participants and that privacy is being protected.

What is IRB?

IRB stands for Institutional Review Board. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) form is used for anyone who will be doing any type of research upon human or animal subjects. Below is a list of frequently asked questions that come up when faced with filling out and requesting permission from the IRB form.